Attack of the Fanboy

Microsoft Discredits Claim that Backward Compatibility isn’t Popular

by Asher Madan


Update:  Mike Ybarra CVP of Xbox & Windows gaming has pushed back harder against the claims by Ars Technica, where he said that the study was providing an “inaccurate view of what people do,” via Twitter.

A few days ago, an article was published with an in-depth study of how Xbox One owners used their consoles. Towards the end, the study made the claim that backward compatibility wasn’t a popular feature and even went as far as using statistics from 2015 to back up their figures. Instead of considering the limitations of their study—in particular the population size and its variety—it went on to just assume that the numbers were concrete.  Well, it turns out that they were way off the mark according to Microsoft. Today, Mike Nichols took to Twitter to answer questions about backward compatibility and its usage. He revealed some startling figures which directly contradict the study’s extrapolations.

“Some q’s today on back compat use.  Roughly 50% of xbox one owners have played, over 508 million hours of gaming enjoyed,” reads a tweet from the Xbox CMO.

According to Mike Nichols, who has first-hand data from Microsoft, roughly 50% of all Xbox One owners have played a backwards compatible game on their console. Apart from that, over 508 million hours have been spent playing backward compatible games on Xbox One. Even if we take into account the millions of Xbox One owners out there, the per capita usage statistics are remarkable.  Nichols’s data clearly demonstrates that backward compatibility is quite a popular feature. If we take into account the fact that only 50% of Xbox One owners have used backward compatibly to begin with, the per person usage is staggering.

“Usually one or two BC games in our daily top played games.  Usage remains high.  Quality games last and are worth playing,” said Spencer.

The Xbox boss chimed in the conversation as well.  While Phil Spencer didn’t offer any exact figures, the Xbox head says that there are usually one or two games in the daily top games played on Xbox One that are backward compatible. While Ars Technica’s latest research on backward compatibility is soundingly debunked by these Xbox executives (and more and more like a hit piece), hopefully backward compatibility is here to stay.  The last thing we need as a community is the inability to play games that we’ve already purchased, despite executives from other platforms not seeing the benefit of being able to do so.

The value is in the option, not whether it’s cost effective for a corporation to include that capability in their console.  Whether we play one hour or hundreds, the ability to go back and replay older games that we’ve already paid for is the crux of the argument, not whether its feasible or not. Apart from that, Call of Duty: Black Ops II made it to the NPD top 10 chart in April 2017. When was the last time you heard of an Xbox 360 game doing that?

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